Category: Food and Health

Garden Fresh Pasta

by dawning on / Food and Health

Garden fresh pasta is so easy and so yummy! This great dish can be a stand alone vegetarian meal or can make the perfect side dish. I had it last night with my Baked Parmesan Chicken, and I am still wanting more!

Ingredients for Garden Fresh Pasta:

  • Thin wheat noodles
  • 6 medium to large tomatoes diced (or 50-60 sliced grape/cherry tomatoes. I love how this looks especially if you grow different colors of tomatoes in your garden!)
  • 1 1/2 cups green onions chopped
  • 4-5 medium sized garlic cloves pressed or minced
  • 1 cup chopped basil (I like to use a porcelain knife so I get a sharp cut but don’t brown leafy greens)
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the tomatoes first, put them in a strainer with a bowl underneath it, and cover them in a dusting of salt, stir and salt again. This removes all the extra water from the tomatoes so it is not too runny.

After all vegetables are cut boil the water for the the pasta. At the same time turn the heat on for the frying pan.

Follow the direction provided on the pasta box.

Using a large frying pan, add olive oil and set to medium heat. Once the pan is warm add the garlic and let sizzle for about 2 minutes stirring regularly. Once the garlic hast puffed up a little turn the heat down to low and immediately add the tomatoes, green onions, basil, and pepper (to taste).  Stir everything together with out pulverizing the ingredients.

Once the pasta is done cooking the vegetables will be too.

The vegetables should be warm but not very cooked, this is garden FRESH pasta we are going for.

Add some olive oil to you pasta noodles and serve topped with the vegetables and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Here are the noodles I usually use, they are cheap, they are whole grain, and they are thin (so they wont hold as much of the starchy water, and wont hold as much of the oil). Great combo!

Thin wheat noodles

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Baked Breaded Parmesan Chicken

by dawning on / Food and Health

I love this recipe for baked Parmesan chicken! I also love to serve this chicken with my garden fresh pasta, which is super easy and absolutely fabulous. I am usually just feeding my husband and myself so this is a great recipe for left overs. We usually get 3 meals out of this recipe, which is good because it does take a little bit of time to make. *See the bottom of this post for re-heating instructions.

Recipe for baked Parmesan chicken:

  • 1 package of chicken breast cutlets (5-6 pieces)
  • 3 tubes of Ritz Crackers (I like the whole wheat kind)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan Cheese finely grated
  • 7 eggs
  • Dried herbs: I like to use Thyme (heavy), Basil, Rosemary, and Turmeric (light)
  • Pepper (no salt needed because the crackers are salted)
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

Spread olive oil in an oven safe pan that is about 9×12

Crush all the crackers into a large bowl or plate (I like to use a 10″ casserole dish because it has deep sides and lots of room to work in). Mix the crushed crackers with  the dried herbs, pepper, and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Mix the eggs in a separate dish that is big enough to dip your pieces of chicken in easily.

With your chicken set out (to the right for right handers and to the left for lefties), have your egg in the middle of your production line, and your breading at the end (on the left for right handers and the right for lefties). Your oven pan should be near by and ready to receive the breaded chicken.

Dip one piece of chicken in the egg, making sure it is as covered as possible. Then take that chicken and lay it flat on top of the cracker crumbs, and roll it in the crackers so that it is coated as much as possible. Then dip it back into the egg, again, making sure you get the egg coated all over the chicken. Then take the piece of chicken and lay it flat on the crackers and roll it again. After it is completely covered lay the piece of chicken in the oven pan. Do this process to all the pieces of chicken.

Prior to putting the chicken in the oven scatter the rest of the Parmesan cheese over the chicken to give it a nice crust.

Parmesan Chicken - Dawning McGinnis

Now it is ready for the oven!

Cook for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely through (which ever comes first). I like to cook my meals that I plan on re-heating as lightly as possible (cooked all the way so there is no pink at all, of course). This makes for better re-heating and less over cooked food.

Parmesan Chicken Enjoyed - Dawning McGinnis

This is so freaken good!!!

*Re-heating instructions:

Since I loath using a microwave and destroying my awesome food, I usually recommend using an oven. Toaster ovens work, but usually not as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the chicken in a clean oven safe pan that fits the amount of chicken you are re-heating.  There is no need for more oil to re-heat, but if the chicken was slightly over cooked it may help it not be dry. If you are using oil, I recommend a light coat of olive oil like you used when cooking the chicken. Once the oven is pre-heated put the chicken in and set the timer for 15-20 min. Make sure to feel the chicken for correct temperature.

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Pre-made for Easy Meal Prep

by dawning on / Food and Health

I like to make food that can be used for a variety of meals. I live in a small house with just myself and my husband, and I find it really hard to cook an intricate meal for only two but we are adults and can’t live on PB&J’s. To make things easier I like to pre-prepare staple ingredients, and I rotate through them for even more variety.

Some of my pre-made staples are:

Boiled chicken breast  – This is so nice to have around because it can be used in anything and is a healthy meat choice. Check out my post Boiled Chicken Doesn’t Have to be Boring. I use this in my Garden Fresh Pasta, Stuffed Shells, and Shredded Chicken & Mandarin Orange Salad to name a few great ways this staple can be used.

Pasta Sauce – Good pasta sauce takes a little while to make, and even the Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce I make takes about a half an hour. This is why I make a good amount up when I make it. I use the Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce for many dishes like my Stuffed Shells and Easy Spaghetti.

Breakfast Bake – Breakfast can be a hard choice in the morning. Everybody is so busy and many don’t make the time for a healthy breakfast. Breakfast Bakes are a perfect pre-made solution. Make a whole casserole and it can last a single person a whole work week, or make two for a couple! (I will post my recipe for this soon!)

I also like to pre-prep some staples, like Parmesan cheese, sliced onions and cut lettuce for sandwiches, and sliced celery & carrots for easy munching.

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Boiled Chicken Doesn’t Have to be Boring

by dawning on / Food and Health

Boiling chicken is an easy and low calorie way to eat meat protein, but it doesn’t have to be tasteless. I use shredded chicken in so many meals, and this little bit of seasoning I add is subtle and a great compliment to already great dishes. (I will post some of my favorite uses for shredded chicken soon!)


  • Boneless Free Range Chicken Breast
  • Free Range Chicken Broth
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground Peppercorn Melange
  • Dash of Salt

Fill a pot with 1 cup (or so) of broth. Add all ingredients. Then add more broth until the chicken is completely covers. Cover the pot with a lid and turn heat onto medium low. Once chicken broth has come to a boil turn heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the inside of the chicken is no longer pink. After chicken is done, drain the broth and save to use for other recipes, or to boil more chicken in a couple days.

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Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce

by dawning on / Food and Health

As we all know, sauce out of the jar is not great. There are very simple ways to turn so-so store bought sauce into something really excellent. Here is what I usually do:


  • 2 Jars Classico Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • 14.5 oz. can Ready-cut Tomatoes Diced with Garlic, Oregano & Basil – thoroughly drained
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried Thyme
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Dice the onion while a pot (large enough for all the sauce) is heating on medium 2 tablespoons of Olive oil. Once oil is warm put the onions in. Saute until the onions are clear. Turn down heat to medium low and let the pot cool for a moment, then add garlic. Saute on medium low heat for 2 minutes stirring regularly. Add jars of sauce and the canned tomatoes. Stir. Add brown sugar, thyme, bay leaves, and salt & pepper. Stir. Let the sauce warm completely and serve with your favorite noodles!

Makes 6-8 servings


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Stuffed Conchiglioni Pasta Shells

by dawning on / Food and Health


  •  Conchiglioni pasta shells (whole wheat can be hard to find, but are my preference), or Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Grand Shells, or Jumbo pasta shells (use about 20 shells depending on size)
  • Pre-made boiled chicken breast, 1 cup shredded
  • Pre-made pasta sauce, 2-3 cups
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 eggs (enough to cover all ingredients)
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil


Heat oven to 375 degrees

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and use about 2 tablespoons of Olive oil to coat the shells. Allow to cool prior to filling.

While the pasta cooks, combine all ingrediants, other than 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and the pre-made pasta sauce, in a large bowl.

In a 13x9x2 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the pre-made pasta sauce. Fill each cooked pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture of ingredients. Fill dish with stuffed shells. Spread remaining sauce over the shells. Sprinkle the remaining Paresan cheese over everything.

Cook for 35 inutes or until hot and bubbly

Stuffed Shells

Dawning’s Stuffed Shells

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